Can Simple Job Design Changes Improve Wellbeing?

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I have just completed some training for a team who had been really floundering with recent changes and we spent a lot of time developing strategies for the team to build their resilience to manage these challenges. But soon after commencing the 2 day programme, it became obvious that there was some issues around the team’s job design and how their tasks were distributed and organised. Pivoting, the team was able to put some fantastic strategies together to feed back to their leadership team as to how their jobs could be better structured to allow for not only higher levels of productivity, but also improved staff engagement and wellbeing.

I found a great article exploring the fact that good job design can be very beneficial for employees’ mental health and wellbeing. It can also contribute to an organisation’s overall effectiveness by empowering employees and encouraging them to be creative and to develop more efficient work methods.

Good job design includes the way an employee’s tasks are organised, their access to adequate resources, the amount of autonomy they have over their work schedules, and the procedures they use to complete their job. It also ensures employees use a variety of skills within their job and encourages them to take on higher levels of responsibility.

Job crafting is also an important part of job design and involves employees individually customising their job by changing elements of their role that they don’t enjoy, improving their interactions with others or viewing their job – and their organisational contribution – in a more positive way.

An organisation can adopt a positive psychology framework to consider two levels – job design and job crafting. Job design is how an organisation determines the roles and who works best in each role. Job crafting is the physical and cognitive changes an individual can make to their task.

When job crafting occurs it allows employees to reshape their job so it’s more aligned to their skills and motivation.

Organisations and leaders need to recognise and understand what motivates people, and their individual interests and strengths.

Many characteristics found in positive work environments are linked to good job design, such as managers making sure employees have adequate resource access or holding regular reviews to ensure people are in the right roles for their capabilities and motivation.

By providing employees with autonomy, challenging, meaningful tasks and adequate support and access to resources, employers can ensure good job design leading to a positive and a productive workplace.

So how can an organisation consider job design and light a fire under your staff?

·         Look at the way your employees’ tasks are organised. Are they working to an effective schedule or do they have periods of being really busy and then times when they are looking for things to do? Can you implement a workflow that better suits individual employees? For example, consider that everyone has a different biological clock. If one employee is a morning person, help them prioritise their more complicated tasks first thing and leave easier jobs to later in the day. If another has more get up and go in the afternoon, suggest they save their harder work until after lunch.

·         Do they have access to the resources they need to do their job properly? It could be as simple as providing stationery, a software program, access to websites or suitable equipment.

·         Do your employees have some say over their role? Having some autonomy over their work environment can help make someone feel valued and involved. They can have input through either individual sessions with their leader and/or team meetings where everyone is encouraged to have their say about their workload and work tasks – both good and bad.

·         Look at the methods your employees use to complete their tasks. Is there any way they can be streamlined or done in a more effective way? For example, just using simple email folders can help someone be more organised.

·         Increasing the skills and capability of employees and people leaders is an easy and effective way to improve the mental health and wellbeing of your workforce.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.